If you’ve ever struggled with a tomato cage or poles that couldn’t support the size and weight of your tomato plants, I may have a solution for you!
This is the first phase of my 36′ long tomato trellis or permanent tomato cage structure. I have tried every type of manufactured tomato cage on the market and none held up to the weight and size of my tomato plants. Maybe you’ve had this problem too. By early July most of my heirloom tomatoes had overgrown their cages and needed additional pole supports. Then I had to deal with summer storms which toppled my tomato supports to the ground, damaging the vines and fruit.
I got tired of constantly rescuing my downed tomatoes and many of the limbs were damaged beyond repair. Because I couldn’t get all the tomato laden vines off the ground I had problems with early blight and insect damage. I needed to come up with a tomato trellis that could withstand high winds and bear the weight of hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and their vines without falling over or breaking. I also needed a tomato support that would allow me to easily access and harvest the ripening fruit.
This year I am using a unique type of tomato cage system that is simple and affordable to build. All that is required for materials is a number of 2×2 and 1×2 boards in the standard 8′ length. You would also need long screws to attach the boards to each other. We cut the 2x2s to 6 1/2′ lengths and saved the 18″ to recycle for other garden projects. (such as garden stakes or row markers) The 2×2 posts were driven into the raised garden beds about 18″ which left 5′ above ground, give or take.
We placed them in a zig zag pattern to give additional support to the tomato cage structure. Then we cut the 1x2s into the needed lengths (by measuring the spaces between the 2x2s) and screwed them together, again in a zig zag pattern to the upright 2×2 posts. The 1x2s were attached about 18″ up from the base of the poles. The next level of 1x2s will be attached today, at about the halfway point or about 22″ higher than the first level of 1x2s.
I may or may not need a 3rd level near the top of the poles. I will wait a few weeks to see how the tomato plants are growing before I add more 1x2s.
I will post updated pics of my tomato trellis soon, so stay tuned…
Also, a quick tip about attaching your vines to the tomato supports- what I have found to be the best tie to use is strips of clean t-shirt material. I save old t-shirts and cut/rip long strips about 1-2″ in width which I then cut to the length needed when I am ready to tie the vines. Sometimes I need longer lengths, sometimes shorter, so I cut as needed. This is the only type of tie I’ve found that holds up to moisture, the weight of the vines and that doesn’t damage or cut into them as they grow in size.
Try this tip for tying up your tomatoes. It’s a great way to recycle some of those old shirts that you may be planning to give away or throw out.